by Nick Giongco
LEGAZPI CITY – The purple jersey, symbol of the overall leader, remained in the possession of Dutch racer Jeroen Meijers after the 176-kilometer Stage 4 of the 2019 Le Tour de Filipinas on Monday topped by Jesse Coyle of Team Nero Bianchi-Australia.
The five-stage event has been dominated by foreign bets since Tagaytay City’s kickoff leg last week and Coyle’s victory was the second straight for the squad that was founded about three years ago.
Coyle, a 24-year-old Sydneysider, was first with a time of four hours, 28 minutes and 41 seconds in a tight finish with Mohs Sukhri Muhammad of Team Saputa Cycling of Malaysia.
Thirty seconds later a large group arrived, including Filpinos Junrey Navarra and Jan Paul Morales of the Philippine national team and Dominic Perez and Felipe Marcelo of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21.
Meijers, who reigned supreme in Stage 1, managed to retain his hold of the General Classification. In hot pursuit are Goh Choon Huat of Terengganu INC TSG of Indonesia and Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food.
The closest Filipino pursuer of the overall leaders is Marcelo, who is at tenth place, behind by two minutes and 36 seconds, while 2014 titlist Mark Galedo is further down at 14th, over five minutes adrift.
Coyle yelled as he crossed the finish line, telling scribes later that it his lap win was extra-special.
“This is my first UCI win,” said the 6-2 Coyle, who credited his team and the support crew for keeping him hydrated in the entire race. “It was really hot. I was well fueled and rehydrated.
My teammates were handing me bottles and I think I had eight bottles, four-to-five liters,” said after Coyle and his fellow riders braced the intense heat racing around the Sorsogon towns of Castilla, Sorsogon City, Gubat, Barcelona and Casiguran before heading back to the Albay capital via Daraga.
Stage 5 will start and finish again here but the remaining riders will take a different route kicking off with on the hills of Legazpi before heading towards Donsol in Sorsogon and making a return trip back here by way of the towns of Pio Duran, Oas, Ligao and Camalig.
Coyle’s win came a day after riders from the host nation pedaled their way to podium finishes when Perez and Galedo finished second and third behind Samuel Hill.